The tragedy that is the BP oil gusher pouring out of a pipe 1000 feet below the surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico is NOT an accident yet some oil corporate-friendly politicians are trying to create that illusion. Why this is isn’t absolutely clear but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the basis for declaring such a red herring.
With Rush Limbaugh implying that Liberals sabotaged the oil rig to kill further off-shore oil drilling and Bret Hume of FOX news casting doubt that the oil spill is all that serious, one wonders if conservatives are oblivious of BP’s fallibility in this.
In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s Good Morning America program recently, newly elected Kentucky Senate Republican candidate Rand Paul chastised the Obama administration for its condemnation of British Petroleum’s (BP) slow response to the spewing oil and recent discoveries that the 3rd largest oil company had taken some safety shortcuts to keep costs down. Without weighing the evidence that has been presented for general consumption by testimony from those present on the rig the night it exploded, the son of Texas Congressman Ron Paul has opened the door to the possibility that what occurred at the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20th was “an accident”.
This view is a similar one to Governor Perry of Texas who is running for re-election this year and said what occurred at the BP rig might be “just an act of God”. Governor Perry’s comments came at gathering of business people at the Washington Chamber of Commerce nearly two weeks after the fatal explosion. By then it was clear that certain steps had been taken by BP management that would have made this something other than the will of the Almighty or a mere accident.
I t should be stated for the record exactly what an accident is. As defined by Merriam-Webster an accident is “an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance” that results from a “lack of intention or necessity”. The fact that it is “unforeseen and unplanned” doesn’t mean that human actions cannot “effect” an accident. In reality, the failure to act responsibly may indeed result in an unwanted outcome that could have been prevented or avoided. Such is the case with BP’s decision to by-pass normal procedures and ignore safety warnings prior to the explosion at their Deepwater Horizon rig last month.
Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician, testified on 60 minutes that a BP manager had earlier “ordered a faster pace” when they realized they were 3-4 weeks behind schedule in drilling the line. “Williams says going faster caused the bottom of the well to split open, swallowing tools and … drilling fluid called mud.” Four weeks before this an unreported occurrence had damaged a sealing gasket called an “annular” on the blow out preventer (BOP) at the sea floor and this would later prove fatal to 11 drillers on the rig. Williams said a Transocean drilling supervisor dismissed it as no big deal.
Williams also revealed that a “BP company man sitting directly beside” him decided to alter the way they normally seal a pipe. Instead of using 3 cement plugs to close the well this BP person decided they would use only two. Williams said the decision was made because “it expedites the subsequent steps” making time and money more a factor than safety. This decision was made in the presence of the rig’s manufacturer, Transocean.
Dr. Bob Bea, a professor of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley was also interviewed by Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes and he informed Pelley that Transocean’s failure to regard the annular sealing gasket as serious was a management decision that set the stage for the “accident”. By not correcting this seal a false pressure reading would be taken, failing to inform the appropriate staff to take corrective action. Bea also told Pelley that BP and Transocean were aware of another equipment failure with the BOP and failed to follow procedure in addressing it.
Now possibly Governor Perry did not have such details when he made his “act of God” declaration but clearly he made no attempt to consider the possibility. Why lead to speculation in one area and not the other? Dr. Paul on the other hand made his comments several days after the testimony of Williams and Bea on 60 Minutes and yet was still willing to assert that the accident that occurred was incidental rather than management’s failure to put safety before profits.
It is no secret that Rand Paul (Rand is short for his given name of Randall) is a died-in-the-wool Libertarian. Libertarians are of the belief the Capitalism is a pure economic model whereby invisible market forces can always correct what can wrong and governments can only make matters worse. Perry is perhaps not a Libertarian ideologue but he has made strong appeals to the Libertarian-based Tea Party to defeat his primary candidate last March and hopefully keep his seat as governor in a state that is predominantly ultra-conservative.
The anti-Obama government mentality that runs through Rand and Perry’s followers are apt to swallow the naive view that BP’s failure to follow all safety procedures did not contribute to this catastrophe. It is an image that runs against the grain of such ideological purist who refuse to accept the reality that government oversight can actually be beneficial when it comes to keeping powerful corporations from ignoring their responsibilities to the general welfare of the public.
The belief of Rand Paul that criticism of BP is “really un-American” is indicative of how Libertarians confuse their economic philosophy with the political philosophy of democracy.. People like Paul and Perry want you to believe that despite occasional lapses businesses really do have the public best interest at heart over their stockholders. This is an idea that is often not supported by the facts.
The evidence, in light of the recent financial bailouts of greedy, profit-motivated corporations whose business practices threw the American and ultimately the global economies into the worst recession since the late 1920’s, has evidently been lost on the likes of Rand and Perry. It’s is amazing that such gullible notions remain popular with any segment of the voting public.